Bill Goldberg on Kicking Ass and Returning to the Ring
Sporting a custom jersey numbered 95, cheek bulging with a fresh lump of dip from the Mets clubhouse’s “special stash,” Bill Goldberg – or simply Goldberg to wrestling fans – is taking practice cuts beneath the baking sun at Citi Field, four hours before throwing the first pitch at tonight’s game. “There’s the funny moment,” he chuckles after the bat flies loose from his hands and down the first-base line.
Admittedly, the 48-year-old former WCW/WWE World Heavyweight Champion and NFL defensive tackle (not to mention actor and aspiring kickboxer – more on the latter in a bit) doesn’t seem most at ease inside a batting cage. Then again, he wasn’t the quickest study inside a squared circle either, and that didn’t stop him from translating sheer physicality and charisma into a singularly iconic – albeit relatively brief and undeniably polarizing – career between the ropes.
That legacy is why Goldberg, all due respect to his seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and recent gigs as MMA color commentator and TV host, is here today. More to the point, it’s why he’ll be a featured attraction this coming Sunday at Citi Field when the Mets’ hospitality group hosts Legends of Wrestling, an event featuring an impressive roster of active and retired talent – Bret Hart and Ric Flair will be in attendance, and the likes of Scott Steiner, the Nasty Boys and Ken Anderson will step into the ring.
It’s that same legacy he and I sat down to discuss just prior to his aforementioned batting practice session. That, and whether he cares what anyone but Bill Goldberg thinks of Bill Goldberg (nope), the odds of him putting on a pair of wrestling trunks one more time (pretty good, sorta) and, if he does, who’s next.
Does doing an event like this suggest you maintain respect for wrestling fans’ passion?
It does. It’s my opportunity to thank them for making me who I am in the wrestling world. I get very few chances to do that. And to hopefully make new Goldberg fans.
Speaking of, you’ve teased a return in some form to the ring. Would that be at this kind of exhibition or perhaps an emerging promotion like Global Force Wrestling?
When I was speaking of that, I wasn’t speaking of my correlation with any organization. This is an event I’m gonna put on myself. Not in association with Global Force or anyone. It’s an opportunity I’ve been given through a number of influential people to fulfill a dream of mine – to let my son watch me wrestle. I don’t want anybody telling me what to do in any capacity anymore. Therefore, I’m gonna do it on my own.
So, to clarify, there is something in the works.
There is an actual date in a stadium in this country that is set up with entertainment to put on an event like nobody’s ever seen. And it’s in my court. It’s all about timing, it’s all about the right opponent. There’s so much that goes into this, especially if it’s my last time. And I honestly don’t know if I’m 100-percent willing to do it, because I’m seriously considering kickboxing right now.
You’re saying you might not be able to balance both.
Yeah, one is fictitious and one couldn’t be any more real. If I was to consider, which I seriously am, the fight for GLORY [kickboxing promotion], I need to put the six-month training camp in and do it like a real fighter does it, so that may push the other thing.
Are you weighing whether you’ll enhance or diminish your legacy?
There’s an inherent risk of that always, especially when you consider I built my legacy on size, strength and ferociousness. When you get older, all of the above seem to dwindle, except for my ferociousness and my mental capacity. So you’re always rolling the dice. There’s a lot of things that go into a decision like this, and taking my legacy into consideration, that’s a lot on the line.
Is the appeal of kickboxing that it reasserts your reputation as an athlete?
There’s only one reason I would do the kickboxing thing, and that’s for myself. I’ve been doing it as an avid student on-and-off for 10 years, and it’s something I really enjoy. I’m 48 years old, dude, and it’s a tough thing, but getting associated with GLORY and seeing what a viable product it is and what my addition to the fray would do, I think it would be really cool for the sport. I’m not doing it because I think I’m a badass, because I have something to prove, because my son wants to see me do it. I’m doing it because I like it, and how many people can make a decision like that in their life on this level? For me, as a competitor, I just think it would be fun. I’m wired differently.